I’ve been a mom for four years now. And for most of that time, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom. I think it’s safe to say that if you look at our weekly schedules, you and I live in two very different worlds. But both of our worlds encompass life as mothers. And because we’re both moms, we’re on the same team. It should never be you vs. me. Neither one of us is better or worse. We’re all mothers. But the truth is, I’ve been judging you.
I personally believe that there is no higher calling than that of being a mother or a father. (I want to add that I realize some women aren’t physically able to be biological mothers. Either due to infertility or the lack of a spouse. I still believe those women can be spiritual mothers or mentors, and feel a similar maternal fulfillment. But that’s a different topic.) But because you spend so much time away from your kids, I’ve judged your priorities.
And for that, working mom, I’m sorry.
I honestly didn’t realize I was judging you. Until I found a passion that made me understand you.
A Peek into My Life
For as long as I can remember, I was the girl who wanted to grow up and be a mom. Nothing else seemed nearly as interesting, desirable or important to me as being a wife and a mother.
As a child, I LOVED playing with dolls. I loved playing mommy. When I grew up a little bit, I went to college because that’s what I was supposed to do. I majored in marketing because I thought it would make me a lot of money. (Then I became a missionary…so much for the whole lots of money thing…but I digress.)
I still didn’t have much of an idea of what I wanted to do with my life. But in the back of my mind, getting married and having kids was still my greatest desire. Then I got married and became a mom and got exactly what I always wanted.
However, it was far from the make-believe motherhood I used to play. (For starters, dolls don’t actually cry…for hours on end.) But in all honesty, I love it. I really do. It’s hard, exhausting, stretching, sanctifying, demanding, and did I say exhausting? But I’ve got to give my younger self credit, now that I’m living out what I made believe back then, I still wouldn’t choose anything different for my life.
For some reason though, with the desire to be a mom came the automatic expectation of being a stay-at-home mom. I don’t know if it was because my mom was a stay-at-home mom, or because of some societal imprint on my life. But for whatever reason, my assumption was always to be a stay-at-home mom. I really never gave the title “working mom” a second thought.
Flexibility to Stay at Home
My husband and I chose to be missionaries with Athletes in Action for many reasons. One reason being so I could have the flexibility to stay at home with our kids. At least while they were little and not yet in school. Over the past four years, I have made it a priority to remain connected to the ministry of Athletes in Action by taking on small roles. However, 90% of my role could be defined as being a stay-at-home mom. I thought I was living out the “best” way to be a mom, and without realizing it, was teetering on a major problem with pride and judgement.
Then, through blogging and other writing opportunities, I recognized that I had another gift and passion outside of being a mother: writing.
And to my surprise, I began to realize that following that passion, gift and opportunity could actually make me a BETTER mother.
I was beginning to understand that it wasn’t bad to take some time away from my kids and house to focus on something else that brings me life. It wasn’t wrong to do something that used my God-given gift outside of being “mom.” It doesn’t make me a bad mom for not spending those hours with my children.
I Judged You
And that’s when I realized I was judging you, working mom. I promise it wasn’t intentional. But it was still there. And as I found myself writing more and more, I realized I had become a working mom. A part-time working mom, but a working mom nonetheless. I had become exactly what I had been believing was the “wrong” type of mom.
I quickly grasped that it was actually me who had been wrong. Working moms, stay-at-home-moms, neither one is better or worse than the other. They’re just different. Some moms work because it is necessary in order to help provide for their family. Some choose to work because they love it and feel called to it. That doesn’t mean that either choosing or needing to work is worse than spending every day at home with your kids. Because in reality, staying at home with your kids is a lot of work too!
I was recently talking to a friend who is a full-time immigration and adoption lawyer with three young sons. She and I are both enneagram 9’s, and I couldn’t believe she could juggle life as a working mom of three boys, while also being a stereotypically laid-back, lower-capacity enneagram 9. But she told me that for her, working makes her a better mom.
She is incredibly passionate about her job as a lawyer, and wants to instill that type of passion into her sons. She was also very honest about being able to love her sons better when they have some space and time away from each other. However, she is also very intentional to set aside time every week for a date with each of her sons during her lunch breaks. Talking to her got me thinking that maybe sacrificing for my kids didn’t mean I had to sacrifice EVERYTHING.
Before I was “mom,” I was still Jenn: wife, daughter, sister, friend, runner, reader, sour patch kid eater. And just because I’m now “mom,” doesn’t mean I have to put every other version of Jenn in a wooden chest, only to bring her back out when my kids grow up and move out. Because if I wait that long, I may not know who Jenn is anymore.
So once more, I’m sorry working mom. Now that I’ve found something I love outside of motherhood, I get it. I can relate better. I understand that working doesn’t take away from the love you have for your children. And I see the good you’re doing in the world. Just because you have an additional passion and career outside of being a mother, doesn’t mean you love your kids any less. I should’ve never judged your devotion or your priorities, and I promise I never will again.
A stay-at-home-mom turned part-time working mom.